Backpacking Across Scotland in the TGO Challenge

The international popularity of the annual TGO Challenge continues to grow each year with more ultralight and lightweight backpackers participating in the annual coast-to-coast hike across Scotland. This year, Trail Ambassador Martin Rye and I participated, hiking 220 miles in 12 days from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast, across three mounatin ranges with many miles of cross-country travel across high elevation moorland.

This was Martin’s fifth successful hike across Scotland in the TGO Challenge and my second. A surprising number of Challenge hikers participate in the event year after year because it’s customary to hike a different route each time. Scotland has some of the best hiking in the world and hiker-friendly right of ways laws  make cross-country, wilderness routes feasible. Martin and I know many backpackers who’ve hiked in the Challenge a dozen times or more, and once you get hooked it’s easy to find a reason to come back and hike it again.

Completing the TGO Challenge is always a formidable hurdle because the early spring weather in Scotland during the 15 day event is often quite poor. This year it rained most of the first week and we had to hike through cold snowmelt that soaked our feet after last winter’s record snowfall. But people complain about the weather every year on the Challenge and keep comping back for the scenery and the cameraderie, which is just tremendous. Some of the world’s most accomplished hikers participate in the event and over 90% of the 300 annual participants complete the journey.

Martin and I each carried Gossamer Gear’s higher volume Mariposa backpack on this trip to carry extra food and warm clothing.  The extra long front mesh pocket of the Mariposa made it easy to access and stow frequent layer changes and get at snacks without having to constantly stop and dig around in our packs.

If you’re interested in learning more about the TGO Challenge, check out Martin’s trip report on his web site or my account of our 2013 journey. As an American hiker (Martin is English), I’m also available if you’d like help in understanding how backpacking in the Scotland differs from backpacking in the States and Canada and the additional skills you’ll want to acquire if you plan to hike in the TGO Challenge.

This post was written by Trail Ambassadors Martin Rye and Philip Werner. You can follow more of their adventures at their websites Summit and Valley and Section Hiker

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2 Responses to Backpacking Across Scotland in the TGO Challenge

  1. Georgette Theotig July 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Wow, the highland scenery of Scotland is beyond description. Thank you for sharing this remote wilderness of peaks, rock, and snow. I loved every part of your video, and wish I was there, too!

  2. Philip July 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    It’s why I keep going back. Scotland is one of the best places to hike in the world in my book. Lots of water. The right of way laws provide wide open walker and camping access. Mountains and that incredible light, which seems to leap from the landscape itself!

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